Social Media Part1
Businesses today no longer need worldwide name recognition, multimillion-dollar television advertising campaigns or a popular CEO to reach a mass audience. Although these factors certainly help when it comes to reputation building, social media has made it possible for companies of any size to engage customers through platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
However, choosing which programs to implement – and who should oversee them – presents a key challenge for many organizations. With countless tools and platforms available to them, businesses must carefully prioritize based on their resources and goals.
Making the right choices can be especially daunting if your team lacks internal social media expertise. To launch successful programs, companies need professionals who can use emerging channels to provide value to customers while also integrating them into existing business practices. Finding employees with the appropriate skills and backgrounds can mean the difference between a compelling presence that helps you understand and relate to your target audience versus a program that yields few meaningful results.
In many companies, being distracted by the “cool factor” of emerging platforms can lead to premature investments in personnel and programs. On the other hand, firms that wait too long to invest can quickly fall behind. The following 3 questions (with more to come) are designed to help you identify your key social media objectives and tailor your strategies accordingly. In addition to helping you assess your true social media needs, these questions also can guide your discussions with colleagues throughout your organization, ensuring everyone is working toward the same goals.
1. What do you hope to gain from your social media presence?
Identify your objectives early in the process, and be as specific and targeted as possible when defining your goals.
What is your primary objective?
Do you want to:
- Support the launch of a new product?
- Enhance your customer service efforts?
- Provide additional tools for your sales force?
- Build buzz around specific causes or topics?
Ask stakeholders throughout the organization for their views on what would be the ideal outcome from the program. Also, be realistic in terms of what you hope to achieve given your company’s resources. Often, it’s best to start with a pilot project or two to validate your business case before making a more significant investment.
2. How do your customers want to engage with you?
If you’re not sure, find out.
The answers will affect everything, from big-picture objectives to daily networking activity and customer interactions. Reach out directly to sales and service teams and other frontline staff, as well as current and potential customers. Determine what kind of interactions via social networks would resonate most with your audience and deepen your customer relationships. To encourage engagement, plan to offer tangible benefits to your Facebook fans and Twitter followers, such as exclusive deals and complimentary items, a sneak preview of company news, or insight and advice that would be tough to find elsewhere.
3. Should you build or join?
The saying, “If you build it, they will come,” isn’t necessarily true of online networks.
You may more effectively achieve your goals by joining existing communities rather than creating a new presence. For example, perhaps an employee could participate in a LinkedIn group focused on your industry. If you decide to go out on your own, be sure to have a plan for developing a following. You can publicize your social media presence in a variety of ways – through your website, online and offline branding campaigns, press materials and e-mail messages, and in recorded messaging customers hear when they call your office. If your company has affiliate divisions or partnerships with nonprofits or other organizations, promote your efforts via these groups as well.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing firm placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a number of organizations on a freelance basis. Find more information at www.creativegroup.com.